Another Dinner without a Recipe and the most amazing Fig Cake!

 Dinner tonight was one of those “lets just see what’s around to go with leftover tossed salad”!  The search turned up two boneless, skinless chicken breasts that were intended for another use; yogurt, cucumber, mint, feta for a take on Tzatziki; Onion Flatbreads; Fresh Green Beans, Red Bell Pepper, Red Onion and an imagined mustard sauce.  There you have it: Dinner!

Here’s what I did:  Mixed the yogurt, feta, mint, cucumber, salt, white pepper and dash of white vinegar to make the take on Tzatziki. Blanched green beans and shocked in ice water.  Cut the red pepper into long strips and sliced the red onion vertically.  Made a sauce from lemon juice, garlic mustard aioli (Trader Joe’s) garlic, dill, capers and olive oil.  Sauteed the onions and peppers in olive oil seasoned with salt and Penzey’s Florida Pepper blend, then added green beans.  Stir fried until lightly browned, turned off the heat and added the mustard sauce and let sit until chicken breasts were grilled. Seasoned the chicken with Penzey’s Northwoods Fire rub and grilled until 155º, set aside and grilled the flat bread.  Sliced the chicken placed in center of flat breads and topped iwth Tzatziki and for mine I added a chopped pickled hot pepper.

Another great off the cuff dinner! 

Now onto dessert.  This was planned for a few days and finally found the time to get it done.


We love figs and I’m constantly looking for good recipes to use them in while they are in season.  A week ago I created a Fig Tart using Graham Cracker Crust, blending soft goat cheese and mascarpone for the filling and lightly sauteed figs with sugar and lemon juice.  It was good, but not over the top.

Continued my search and stumbled upon a recipe by Emeril!  You can see it here.   He pairs it with Hazelnut Ice Cream and I’m sure that would be an awesome combo.  And somewhere along the last few days I had planned to procure some Ice Cream to serve alongside the cake, but, alas it never made it onto a shopping list and we were forced to enjoy it on it’s own.  And enjoy it we did!

 I recently read where fig dishes do not photograph well and boy was that an accurate statement. 

Here’s the recipe and my photos from my phone, go for it even though the pics aren’t beautiful I promise the cake is tasty!

Fresh Fig Up-Side Down Cake

Recipe By :Emeril Lagasse
Serving Size : 12 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Cakes Desserts

Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
1 1/2 pounds fresh figs — stemmed, quartered
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter — softened, divided
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, toss the figs with the sugar. In a hot cast-iron skillet, melt 1/2 stick of the butter. Sauté the figs for 2 minutes.

For the batter: In a mixing bowl, cream the remaining stick of butter and brown sugar. Stir in the eggs 1 at a time. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Combine vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture and milk to the egg mixture. Mix well.

Pour the cake batter evenly over the figs. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and pulls away slightly from the edges of the skillet. Cool for about 30 minutes, then invert over a large platter. Cut into individual servings and serve with a scoop of ice cream.

This recipe yields 12 servings.

“EMERIL LIVE with Emeril Lagasse – (Show # EM-1D54) – from the TV FOOD NETWORK”

Just out of the pan!

Just out of the pan!

Minus 3 slices!

Minus 3 slices!

Three slices on their way to a neighbor!

Three slices on their way to a neighbor!

The cake isn’t as sweet as we expected, the figs and caramelized sugar is just right and the cake crumb is firm and moist at the same time.  I’ve always loved creating things that are baked in a cast iron skillet.  Looking forward to my next piece but will resist until lunch tomorrow!











Eat Well…Be Well!




Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

End of August Dinner


Hot, Muggy, Thunderstorms, miserable heavy air about….oh wait it’s August in NYC!  But to be perfectly honest we shouldn’t be complaining at all!  This is the first unbearable day, we’ve had a few hours on a few days that were humid, but other than that you would never have had any idea it was August in NYC! 

We did laze about a little too much this morning and early afternoon and paid for it when we finally got into gear and went out to run a few errands.  Cranked the A/C in the car to offset the oppressive heat.  On the way home we were trying very hard to stay in front of the looming thunderstorm.  Two blocks away it caught up to us and let us have it.  Once on our street we found a parking spot and sat in the car hoping it would lighten up just enough to get into the building without too much wetness.  Finally gave up and made a dash for it, baby Charlie, stroller, packages, and off we went!  We were wet but not drenched and Charlie was laughing about being wet in the stroller!  When we arrived inside the apartment we dried ourselves and unpacked our purchases, then looked outside to see that the downpour had stopped and the stinkin’ sun was trying to peek through the gray skies!  Is this Irish luck?

For dinner I had planned grilled Pork Tenderloin and Potato Salad.  Was craving my Mom’s potato salad with hard boiled egg.  Set up pots with the egg and potatoes and started poking around the fridge.  At the end of my effort I decided a composed salad was a better way to go!20140831_182533

The Fridge search turned up: Blanched Green Beans; 1/2 Red Bell Pepper; Huge Red Radishes; Two Persian Cucumbers; Roasted Pink Beet; and 1/2 bag of Arugula.  On the counter was a Beefsteak Tomato that was about to go South.  Cooled the potatoes and hard boiled egg and added some capers and the picture tells the story!


The dressing was made in the blender:  Shallot. Garlic Aioli Mustard, Coarse Grain Dijon Mustard, White Wine Vinegar, Coarse Salt, Ground Pepper, Dill and a few capers, Kalamata Olive Oil.  Added more chopped dill before serving!

Composed Salad

Composed Salad


It was perfect side for the grilled Pork Tenderloin that had been rubbed with Penzey’s 33rd & Galena Chicken & Pork Rub, a favorite in this house!  Also grilled some garlic bread to accompany our very summery meal.  Even Charlie was impressed! 

 On another note, in case you missed it on FB or Twitter:  I was invited to create a guest blog post on the Mastercook online blog, you can see it here: 

The Mastercook post shows most of the menu we served at a Client’s Annual End of Summer Party.  Stay tuned for more info on the forthcoming E-book I’m working on for Mastercook! 


Eat Well…Be Well!


Posted in Chef Jim Menu | 3 Comments

Most popular new version of Spinach Dip

A few years ago, at the request of a client, I updated the standard Spinach Dip recipe that I had been making for her events. While she loved several of the other dips I’d made over the years her family preferred the Spinach Dip. I suggested I try roasted garlic in place of raw. It was a great success and for them I frequently double the garlic by using two heads, maybe start with one and adjust up as you see it’s well liked!

Crudites with Roasted Garlic Spinach Dip and Creamy red pepper dip.

Crudites with Roasted Garlic Spinach Dip and Creamy red pepper dip.


  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

category: Appetizers, Hors d’oeuvres, Dips  Author: Chef Jim
• 8 ozs. cream cheese — room temp
• 1 cup sour cream
• ½ cup Miracle Whip® — *see note
• 1 small onion — grated
• 1 head garlic
• 1 pinch dried dill
• ½ tspn kosher salt — to taste
• 10 ozs frozen spinach — defrosted squeezed dry as possible
• ¼ tspn ground chipotle

1 Preheat oven to 400º slice of the top 1/3 of garlic head exposing the tops of all the cloves, sprinkle with kosher salt and drizzle with olive oil, wrap in a piece of aluminum foil, place in oven and roast until lightly browned and the cloves are soft about 40 minutes.Cool to room temperature. When cool enough to handle squeeze the head of garlic to loosen the now roasted and softened heads of garlic into a small bowl.

2 Saute onion in small amount of oil and cool.

3 Combine sour cream, cream cheese, Miracle Whip in food processor process until lightly blended. Add spinach, dill, onion. garlic and blend till smooth. Chill several hours.

Notes: I know most people aren’t MW fans, but I implore you to try it in this recipe as it really works very well, it’s smoother and sweeter than traditional Mayo!

Eat Well…Be Well!

Posted in Chef Jim Recipe | 1 Comment